I am embarrassed to learn this late, just today, that the Michigan economist and all-around decent person Jan Svejnar has been combating the Thatcherite Vaclav Klaus for the presidency of the Czech Republic. In the last round of parliamentary vote held today Klaus received 139 and Svejnar 113 votes, neither managing to get the majority needed to get elected. The next vote is scheduled for February 15th.
In the words of one Czech political analyst
[Svejnar] has contributed a great deal to the atmosphere of Czech political culture. His approach has been novel. He decided to run what is referred to here in the Czech Republic as an 'American' campaign. So even though the president is elected by parliament, he traveled around the country, he spoke to people and presented his views. And in a country where the president is elected through behind-the-scenes deals, this was a very refreshing approach. He basically said to the current political establishment: Look, let's do it openly, let's find the best person and not just let someone in who promises the most, behind-the-scenes.
The Czech public and the media were quite skeptical at the beginning but Svejnar really managed to excite the people. The latest opinion polls show that he is gaining on Mr. Klaus or even leading, which means that more people would prefer to see him as president than Mr. Klaus. Given that his campaign has lasted only about two months, this is an amazing achievement. He deserves full credit for being a very good candidate.
Wow. One day he is submitting articles to journals, the next he is running for president...